He was considered to be “somewhat arrogant.” Many felt he “over-reacted” and was too “emotional” about issues. He was often accused of being “too personally involved” in the details of his business. He took “too much ownership” for decisions, his superiors and colleagues often said. Who was he? Jack Welch, CEO of GE for twenty years and one of our century’s foremost business management gurus.
Many people believe that business should be fee of emotions. Business performance often centers on strategic choices, individual and group competencies, work and business processes, technological support, information systems, and so on. There seems to be no place for emotions in all of this. Most would agree that success in business is a result of improved productivity, greater profitability, increased market share, and other hard, quantifiable disciplines. There’s not much place for emotions here, either. The fact is that most leaders try to keep emotions out of business. After all, emotions running rampant make things difficult.
Why? Emotional team members can have a significant negative impact on performance. Emotional people can perform erratically, engage in arguments and refuse to work together. The result is generally a clash of egos and the loss of productivity. When speaking of management many believe that “a good manager must never show his emotions!” But is that valid? I would contend that without emotions in business any venture is doomed for failure.The issue is not emotions in business for the sake of emotions themselves. But emotions in the business environment can and need to be managed. Emotional states can and do influence action and support productivity. Passion is the driving force behind any idea or initiative. All businesses want motivated team members. They spend time and money pumping up and motivating staff. They want to build passion, and what is passion but emotion. So on one hand company’s work to create feelings (when it serves them) and on the other they attempt to suppress them. You can’t have one without the other. But you can balance emotions and maintain a healthy emotional environment. In other words, you can develop a healthy E.Q. or “Emotional Quotient.” Here’s how:1. “Care for people” rather than “take care of them.” If we care for people we tell them NOT what they WANT to hear, but rather what they NEED to hear. If we withhold that, then we’re not doing them any favors. In fact we are damaging our relationship with them and impeding their success and growth.2. Encourage open communication and feedback. Don’t allow an undercurrent of gossip to permeate the team. Get things out in the open. People who don’t intend to change typically complain about the amount of feedback they receive. Those that are open to change, welcome feedback.3. Connect with how people FEEL, rather than merely what they THINK. Focusing on how people feel about information unlocks their potential to use it in a constructive way. It opens discussions and leads to stronger relationships. Stronger relationships lead to better decisions, and better decisions lead to more profit.4. STOP avoiding conflict. Success comes through innovation, and innovation comes through discomfort, which is a need to change or improve something. Yet if these forces of innovation are stifled, because of reluctance to deal with conflict and confrontation, your organization may become stagnant and quickly fall prey to the competition. Conflict and confrontation strengthen relationships and improves quality.5. Make it OK to talk about emotion within the organization. Expressing emotion helps diffuse potential problems. Feelings will seek an outlet one way or another: Either through a direct, productive articulation, or an indirect, destructive behavior that undermines relationships, teamwork and goal achievement. Knowing up front how people feel about issues clarifies direction and focus, and gives individuals the chance to be heard, thereby freeing up energy to grow and develop.6. Encourage people to be passionate about what they believe. The opposite of passion is mediocrity. Those organizations that succumb to mediocrity will cease to exist in the new economy. Passion incites positive change and positive change is the foundation for business growth. When people are able to share their passion and express disagreement in an open forum, quality is improved. I encourage every business leader to create an environment in which emotions and passion will surface.Emotions are seldom arbitrary or inconsequential. So we should both recognize emotions and allow them to be experienced. I am not saying that a manager can fully control people’s emotions. Nor am I arguing that all negative emotions are necessarily bad. On the contrary, if we were not able to feel unsatisfied, we would not learn, nor could we develop or make progress. Conversely, if we CAN feel satisfied, it is because we have experienced dissatisfaction. Emotions will always be an important part of working and living together. Strong leadership can change the emotional conditions that limit what is possible in a business.While I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) may need to be considered for some roles, E.Q. (Emotional Quotient), on the other hand, is far more important in winning support, motivating performance and achieving excellence. In essence, it is our “Emotional Quotient” that may have the largest influence over making the impossible, possible.